01 Jun Steven Spielberg – A Legend in His Own Time
A Legend in His Own Time
Steven Allan Spielberg born December 18, 1946) is an American filmmaker. He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era and one of the most popular directors and producers in film history.
In 1958, he became a Boy Scout and fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. Years later, Spielberg recalled to a magazine interviewer, “My dad’s still-camera was broken, so I asked the scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father’s movie camera. He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western. I made it and got my merit badge. That was how it all started.” At age 13, while living in Phoenix, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled Escape to Nowhere… using a cast composed of other high school friends. That motivated him to make 15 more amateur 8 mm films.
Spielberg started in Hollywood directing television and several minor theatrical releases. He became a household name as the director of Jaws (1975), which was critically and commercially successful and is considered the first summer blockbuster. His subsequent releases focused typically on science fiction and adventure films, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the Indiana Jones series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993) are seen as archetypes of modern Hollywood escapist filmmaking.
Spielberg transitioned into addressing serious issues in his later work with The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Amistad (1997), and Saving Private Ryan (1998). He has largely adhered to this practice during the 21st century, with Munich (2005), Lincoln (2012), Bridge of Spies (2015), and The Post (2017). He co-founded Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks Studios, where he has also served as a producer for several successful films, including the Gremlins, Back to the Future, Men in Black, and the Transformers series. He later transitioned into producing several games within the video-game industry.
Spielberg is one of the American film industry’s most critically successful filmmakers, with praise for his directing talent and versatility, and he has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice. Some of his movies are also among the highest-grossing movies of all-time, while his total work makes him the highest-grossing film director in history. His net worth is estimated to be more than $3 billion.
Spielberg described how he chooses the film projects he would work on:
[Sometimes], a story speaks to me, even if it doesn’t speak to any of my collaborators or any of my partners, who look at me and scratch their heads and say, ‘Gee, are you sure you wanna get into that trench for a year and a half?’ I love people challenging me that way because it’s a real test about my own convictions and [whether] I can be the standing man of my own life and take a stand on a subject that may not be popular, but that I would be proud to add to the body of my work. That’s pretty much the litmus test that gets me to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll direct that one.'
The most persistent theme throughout his films is tension in parent-child relationships. Parents (often fathers) are reluctant, absent or ignorant. Peter Banning in Hook starts off in the beginning of the film as a reluctant married-to-his-work parent who through the course of the film regains the respect of his children. The absence of Elliott’s father in E.T. is the most famous example of this theme. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it is revealed that Indy has always had a very strained relationship with his father, who is a professor of medieval literature, as his father always seemed more interested in his work, specifically in his studies of the Holy Grail, than in his own son, although his father does not seem to realize or understand the negative effect that his aloof nature had on Indy (he even believes he was a good father in the sense that he taught his son “self reliance,” which is not how Indy saw it).
The breadth of Spielberg’s work is unprecedented is scope, from animation to historical dramas.
Spielberg was married to Amy Irving from 1985 – 1989 then subsequently developed a relationship with actress Kate Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married on October 12, 1991. Capshaw is a convert to Judaism. Kate is Protestant and she insisted on converting to Judaism. She spent a year studying, did the “mikveh,” the whole thing. She chose to do a full conversion before we were married in 1991, and she married me after becoming a Jew. I think that, more than anything else, brought me back to Judaism.:25
He credits her with fueling his family’s current level of observance and for keeping the “momentum flowing” in their lives, as they now observe Jewish holidays, light candles on Friday nights, and give their children Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.:26 “This shiksa goddess has made me a better Jew than my own parents.”They currently move among their four homes in Pacific Palisades, California; Quelle Farm, Georgica Pond in East Hampton, New York; New York City; and Naples, Florida.
There are seven children in the Spielberg-Capshaw family:
• Jessica Capshaw (born August 9, 1976) – daughter from Kate Capshaw’s previous marriage to Robert Capshaw
• Max Samuel Spielberg (born June 13, 1985) – son from Spielberg’s previous marriage to actress Amy Irving
• Theo Spielberg (born August 21, 1988) – son adopted by Capshaw before her marriage to Spielberg, who later also adopted him
• Sasha Rebecca Spielberg (born May 14, 1990, Los Angeles)
• Sawyer Avery Spielberg (born March 10, 1992, Los Angeles)
• Mikaela George (born February 28, 1996) – adopted with Kate Capshaw
• Destry Allyn Spielberg (born December 1, 1996)
Producing Schindler’s List in 1993 also renewed his faith, Spielberg says, but “it really was the fact that my wife took a profound interest in Judaism.”:25 He waited ten years after being given the story in 1982 to make the film, Producing Schindler’s List in 1993 also renewed his faith, Spielberg says, but “it really was the fact that my wife took a profound interest in Judaism.”:25 He waited ten years after being given the story in 1982 to make the film,
As an extremely influential powerhouse in whatever he chooses to support or pursue, Steven Spielberg is considered an unparalleled influencer of the century across the globe. He tends to speak with his support or absence of same in political settings.
He is a collector of film memorabilia and of Normal Rockwell paintings. He is a film buff and an avid video gamer. The awards and recognition received is also unprecedented with accolades from high ranking government officials as well as industry recognition such as three Academy Awards and recipient of a Federal Cross of Merit and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Steven Spielberg is a legend in his own time.
At 72, he continues to work and play and create. Many projects on the horizon, including the possible ‘Indiana Jones’ film with a potential release of July 2021 – although that date is not ‘set in stone’.